NBC cautions broadcasters on polls’ coverage

• Oritsejafor, Southern leaders urge unity, peaceful elections, others

THE Director-General, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Mr. Emeka Mba, has called on broadcasters in the country to display high sense of patriotism and professionalism in the coverage and broadcast of election campaigns and next month’s general elections.

  Mba, who spoke at the sensitisation meeting on political broadcasting organised by the Abuja Zonal office of the commission Tuesday in Abuja, said that broadcasting is integral to peaceful elections and democracy, it is the responsibility of the NBC as a regulator at this crucial time in our nation’s history to emphasise the need for broadcasters to be professional and stick to the Nigerian Broadcasting Code and the Electoral Act as pertaining to broadcasting election campaigns and election results.

 “We brought the broadcasters together to sharpen their focus and sense of responsibility. Even though a large number of stations abide by the code, there are still some deviations.

  “In broadcasting, when you say it, it has gone out and the damage has been done and while you are trying to retract it, the damage may have been done already, we are trying to heighten our sense of professional responsibility at this period. Do not report rumours, double check facts. Broadcasters in the past few months have shown professionalism, and because of the huge investment cost in the industry, no one wants to loose his investment”, he said.

  In another development, southern leaders have restated their commitment to the unity of the zone as a platform for the continued unity of the nation while pursuing the ideals that hold the different ethnic sections together. Also, they harped on the non-negotiable need for the conduct of a free and fair election and for government to urgently curb the scourge of insurgency in some parts of the country.

  At the opening of the two-day fifth general conference of the Southern Nigeria People’s Assembly (SNPA) yesterday, the leader of the South-West delegation, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Bolanle Gbonigi, proffering a solution to the insecurity in the country, advocated for a meeting between the “SNPA and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) to discuss the general security challenges in the country and the imperatives of conducting peaceful general elections in 2015.”

  Also, President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, has urged traditional leaders to educate their subjects on the need to maintain peace before, during and after the elections.

  He asked Nigerians not to give their votes to any politician who speaks the language of violence.

  Speaking at the meeting organised by the Northern States Christian Elders Forum (NOSCEF) for Christian traditional rulers in northern part of the country yesterday in Abuja, Oritsejafor enjoined the traditional leaders to press it home to their subjects and impress it on them that Nigeria is worth keeping together.

  He said: “As traditional leaders, you have the respect of your people and also know how to communicate to them effectively. Tell your people that in election, if you don’t win today, you will win tomorrow. Nigeria is big enough for everyone to have his own share of this great nation.”

  In his own paper entitled “2015 General Elections: Ensuring Fairness, Decency and Access in Broadcast Media”, Mr. Mark Ojiah urged broadcasters to eschew ethnic and religious politics and inculcate in Nigerians, the spirit of tolerance of all shades of opinion, promote social justice base on the rights and responsibilities of individuals and ensure objectivity and balance in their reportage.

  He challenged broadcasters on steps that should be adopted to ensure they play their pivotal role in ensuring the success of the 2015 elections.

  In his address, Ekwueme reflected on the activities of the SNPA and reiterated that the unity of the South “is not intended to divide Nigeria or be a vehicle for bifurcation, but on the contrary, southern unity would promote and conduce to greater unity of Nigeria as a whole.”

   Clark, who harped on and attributed the prevailing unity in the South to the SNPA, said that “the success recorded at the National Conference was essentially a product of our building endeavours.”  

  Former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife in a message, said that ahead of next month’s elections, there is the need to ponder the questions: “What type of Nigeria do we want? How do we vote in the coming presidential election to get the Nigeria we want?” He said we want a Nigeria that is peaceful, united permanent and progressing. 

  In a goodwill message, the Chairman of the South-East Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, said: “It is imperative for South to understand who we are, where we are and what constitutes our collective interest.” 

  Raising concerns of a different nature ahead of the elections, Gbonigi said that one grave matter facing the South “is the creation of the suspended 30,000 additional polling units and the reconfiguration of polling units nationwide using the contentious formula of 85 per cent proportional representation and 15 per cent equality of the states by INEC.”

  The cleric also appealed to politicians and the political parties, not to compromise peace, unity and the territorial integrity of Nigeria by avoiding inciting acts during or after the elections.

  On the prevailing threat of insecurity, Gbogini, while condemning the Boko Haram insurgency and commending the professionalism of the Nigeria Armed Forces, called on the Federal Government to seek the support of the international community to freeze the assets of the sponsors of the insurgents in order to reduce the flow of funds and weaponry to them. 

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